Monday, August 20, 2018
Tomorrow is the due date for the State's initial brief to the Court of Appeals of Maryland in the Adnan Syed case. The defense's first brief is due about a month later, on September 20th, oral arguments will be held in late November or early December, and we'll have the final ruling from Maryland's highest court about a year from now or earlier. In other words, we're reaching the home stretch of the appeal...and that has me thinking back to my overall theory of what actually happened to Hae Min Lee. It's hard to believe that it's been almost four years since the final episode of Serial, Season One aired. That same day, I posted my most logical scenarios for the death of Hae Min Lee, and I find that little has changed in terms of the big picture.
I still believe that (1) Adnan asked Hae for a ride on the morning of January 13, 1999; (2) Hae initially agreed to give Adnan a ride; (3) someone else got Hae to change her plans before the end of school; and (4) Hae told Adnan at/right after the end of school that she could no longer give him a ride because something had come up and she had "something else" to do. This last event was initially reported by Becky, and Adnan and Hae's friend Krista later reported to me that Aisha said something similar on the night of January 13th about Hae telling Adnan she couldn't give him a ride because "something came up."
Assuming that 1-4 are true, the question then becomes (a) did Hae in fact leave Woodlawn right after school to meet up with the person who got her to change her plans; or (b) did Adnan ultimately convince Hae to give him a ride? In situation (a), the person who got Hae to change her plans was very likely her killer. And, in situation (b), Adnan was very likely her killer. Based on all of my work on the case over the past four years, I think that (a) is clearly the likeliest scenario.
The biggest question mark in this whole case is Jay. If you think Jay killed Hae, the legitimate question often asked is how Adnan can be innocent when Adnan spent a good deal of the day with Jay and loaned him his car. And, if you think Jay was completely uninvolved, the legitimate question is how Jay knew the location of Hae's car. There are certainly answers to both questions, which have been discussed both here and on Undisclosed, but these are legitimate questions nonetheless.
But what if there were a scenario which removed any questions from the equation and would seemingly fully explain all of the aspects of the case? This is the scenario I've been mulling for a while.
This scenario is quite simple. It consists of 1-4 above, with the person getting Hae to change her plans being a current Woodlawn student or a recent Woodlawn graduate. This person was not Jay, but (s)he was someone known to Jay and Jenn (both recent Woodlawn graduates). It seems pretty plausible that this person would have ties to Woodlawn...because who was likely to get Hae to change her plans? I assume family, friends, or boyfriend. We have no reason to believe that anyone in Hae's family would have harmed her, and I honestly haven't gone down the Don wormhole enough to have an opinion on him. That leaves friends, and, simply put, most high schooler's friends are people they know from high school.
We know that Hae typically left Woodlawn at about 3:00 P.M. to pick up her cousin from Campfield at about 3:15 P.M., and we have multiple witnesses (Becky and Inez*) saying Hae left school in a hurry on January 13th right after the final bell. So, in this scenario, Hae is likely taking a quick sojourn to meet someone relatively close to both Woodlawn and Campfield before picking up her cousin. And, in this scenario, the meeting goes horribly wrong, leading to Hae's death.
Where's Jay during this time? Maybe he's still at Jenn's house when Hae is killed. Maybe he goes to a pool hall. Maybe he goes to Best Buy. Maybe he goes to Woodlawn to see Stephanie. Maybe he hangs out with Adnan. In this scenario, Jay could be doing anything other than killing Hae.
And where's Adnan during this time? Who knows? Maybe he sees Asia at the library. Maybe he sees Debbie outside the guidance counselor's office. Maybe he remains at school and sees neither Asia nor Debbie. Maybe Jay picks him up from school. And maybe while he's with Jay, Adnan gives Nisha a call. Again, Adnan could be doing anything other than killing Hae.
Eventually, Adnan arrives at track between 3:30 P.M. and 4:00 P.M. for the start of track practice, with Coach Sye stretching with him and initiating a conversation about Jay Adnan leading prayers for Ramadan.** When Adnan is done with track practice, he calls Jay, who picks him up, with Adnan proceeding to smoke a blunt. The two then hang out for a while, possibly going to Cathy's place.*** Adnan and Jay hang out past the start of prayers at Ramadan so Adnan can get rid of his high. The 7:09 and 7:16 P.M. calls happen while there are driving near (but not in) Leakin Park, possibly as they drive by Patrick's house. Soon after 8:05 P.M., Adnan drops Jay off at the mall or Jay's place, with Jay meeting up with Jenn. And...that's it for Adnan and Jay/Jenn. Adnan heads to the mosque where he practices his prayers with Bilal. At this point, Adnan, Jay, and Jenn have had nothing to do with the death of Hae Min Lee.
Returning back to the killing, we know from the lividity evidence that Hae was face down for about 8-12 hours after her death. Assuming the killing took place between 2:30 and 3:15 P.M., this means that Hae was moved to Leakin Park at 10:30-11:15 P.M. at the earliest. This is where Jay and Jenn come into play. They come into contact with the killer. And, whether due to money, fear, or friendship, they agree to help the killer with burying Hae in Leakin Park, with the burial taking place later than argued at trial, consistent with Jay's Intercept interview.
I'm not sure I believe this scenario more than the "completely uninvolved Jay" scenario, but it presents some advantages over both that scenario and a "guilty Jay" scenario. Namely:
1. It completely eliminates the question of how Jay knew the location of Hae's car. In this scenario, Jay was involved in the burial;
2. It explains why Jenn admits to involvement in the case. A "completely innocent Jay" likely means a "completely innocent Jenn." In this scenario, Jenn is actually downplaying her involvement;
3. While I don't think The Nisha Call happened on January 13th, this scenario makes that call much less meaningful. Maybe Adnan hung out with Jay before track practice and called Nisha and later denied these facts because he didn't want to admit to being with the person who was falsely claiming he killed Hae;
4. Those who think Adnan is guilty try to explain away Jay's inconsistencies as Jay trying to protect others or downplay his role in the killing. But...how does that explain inconsistencies with regard to the events after the killing is done? Jay has Adnan dropping him off at home, with Jenn picking him up later, while Jenn has Adnan dropping Jay off with her at the mall. Jenn has Jay and he going to her sorority house/her friend Mike's birthday at UMBC while Jay never mentions these events. Jay has himself disposing of everything in a dumpster on the night of the 13th. Jenn has Jay dumping his clothes in a dumpster the next day. These inconsistencies or lies make a lot of sense if we assume Jay and Jenn are involved in wrongdoing that night as opposed to during the day; and
5. I think that any information that Jay and Jenn have about the crime and the crime scene could have come from the news and/or the police. But, to the extent you think they know things they shouldn't know, their involvement in the burial would explain this knowledge.
So, breaking this all down: The police (logically) see Adnan as a suspect because he's the ex-boyfriend who asked Hae for a ride on the morning of January 13th. The police later get Adnan's call log and saw (1) the call to Jay in the morning; (2) the "Leakin Park pings;" and (3) the bookending calls to Jenn at 7:00, 8:04 and 8:05 P.M. They develop the theory that Adnan killed Hae and got help with her burial from Jenn and/or Jay. When the police approach Jenn and Jay (in whatever order), Jenn and Jay see a chance to minimize their responsibility and protect the real killer (whether due to friendship, fear, etc.) by going along the police's theory and pinning the crime on Adnan.
But what you end up with is Jay's story during the day not making sense and conflicting with Adnan's track alibi because Adnan is innocent. And what you also get is Jay and Jenn completely contradicting one another about the events on the evening of January 13th because they're covering up their involvement in the burial.
I'm not sure whether this scenario is more plausible then the "completely uninvolved Jay" scenario, but it seemingly avoids many or all of the questions raised by the case. The only question is which Woodlawn student or graduate might have killed Hae?
Or at least that's what I think. I'd be interested in readers' thoughts in the comments section.
*Who may have the wrong day or be confabulating multiple days.
**Adnan could also be late to track practice in this scenario, and it wouldn't matter.
***I still doubt this happened on January 13th, but we can assume that they went there without any impact on this scenario.